CHP Recommends Charges Against Golden Gate Bridge Jumper

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – A California Highway Patrol spokesman said investigators have recommended misdemeanor charges against a Windsor high school student who survived a 220-foot  jump from the Golden Gate Bridge Thursday morning

CHP Officer Chris Rardin said the misdemeanor trespassing charge recommended entails climbing any rail, cable, suspender rope, tower or superstructure not intended for public use.

The offense is punishable by up to a year in county jail, a fine up to $10,000, or both.

The teen, who survived the 11 a.m fall from the South Tower area of the bridge, has been identified by friends on social media sites as 17-year-old Luhe “Otter” Vilagomez. School officials and the CHP have not confirmed his identity.

Rardin said the CHP does not believe the teen intended to commit suicide, but wants to ensure he is not at risk for further incidents.

“For that reason, the CHP Marin Area is recommending a medical/psychiatric evaluation by medical professionals,” Rardin said.

Windsor High School principal Mark Elin told two reporters who visited the campus Friday morning there is no indication from the other students who were on the field trip with the teen to San Francisco Thursday that the jump was a prank or was done on a dare.

The teen recently moved to the Windsor area and has attended Windsor High School since January, Elin said.

The 45 students in the school’s CORE humanities’ studies program were walking along the bridge before visiting the de Young museum, Windsor Unified School District Interim Superintendent William McDermott said.

Student Garrett Molsberry said Friday afternoon, “Everyone who heard the story or saw him jump said he did it for fun. He said he jumped off bridges before.”

Frederic Lecouturier, the 45-year-old San Rafael surfer who recovered the teen from the water and paddled him to the Fort Point shore on his board, said the teen told him he jumped “for kicks.”

Lecouturier said he was beneath the east side of the bridge looking up toward the west when he saw the teen’s body fall into the ocean about 25 yards away.

I said, oh, s—, this guy’s dead,” Lecouturier recalled.

Lecouturier said the teen was about 50 feet from the water when he first saw him. The teen fell feet first and his knees were slightly buckled when he hit the water, Lecouturier said.

The teen surfaced quickly and began swimming, and a strong south wind might have slowed his fall and enabled him to survive, Lecouturier said.

Lecouturier said he removed the teen’s shoes to increase his buoyancy.

“He said he was okay. He said he did it for kicks. I was angry and I went off on him. I said, ‘God gave you life and you’re playing with it like it’s nothing.’ He didn’t say anything,” Lecouturier said.

Lecouturier got the boy onto his surfboard and they both paddled toward Fort Point where emergency responders were already waiting, Lecouturier said.

The teen was taken to San Francisco General Hospital. The Windsor school district said he did not suffer severe injuries.

The teen is less than five feet tall and weighs about 120-125 pounds, Lecouturier said.

“He’s muscular, fit and light. A 200-pound boy would have drowned,” Lecouturier said.

“He’s a nice kid but all these kids live in virtual reality. They see people jumping from buildings and bridges and surviving. What was this kid thinking?” asked Lecouturier, who is the father of two teens.

“I don’t think he wanted to die,” Lecouturier said.

The surfer said he was also upset by the actions of Vilagomez’s classmates.

“They’re yelling like they’re watching some sort of roller coaster ride or something,” Lecouturier said. “I don’t know what they were thinking. Just yelling, maybe yelling out for other people to maybe go out and get him.”

But some of Vilagomez’s classmates who were with him on the bridge are telling CBS5 that nobody was encouraging him to jump.

“It was NOT a dare and no one was ‘egging him on,’” Hailee Zastrow, a Windsor High School senior wrote to CBS 5 in a Facebook message. “That is completely ridiculous and we are all extremely offended by that accusation. The students that were standing right next to him were trying to hold him back.”

Zastrow also refutes surfer Lecouturier’s observation that it looked like the students were “cheering” after he jumped.

On the contrary, Zastrow said the experience was “totally traumatizing” and that “everyone was hysterical and freaking out afterwards – not cheering,” she wrote. “None of us are that twisted.”

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)


    How can any one want to die?. I am 71years old and I want to live and see my kids and grandkids grow up.
    I live day by day and I still work for an Air Line and I am happy to be alive.
    Young man grow up and be srtong in this world of ours that we made.
    Take care and stay healthy .Love MTB

  • Cat

    Thank goodness Mr. Lecouturier was there to save the teenage idiot.

  • Big Time

    This jumper is sure getting a lot of press. Typically the media doesn’t report on jumpers, but this guy is getting famous. There are sure to be some copycats.

    • Jadǝ Purǝlica

      Getting media attention, yes. Getting famous? Nah. He’ll be forgotten by tomorrow.

  • Peter Marks

    This guy should be forced to pay for all those who spent time caring for him. He is definitely a nut case and needs to be institutionalized and not be allowed to intergrate with society. He is not going to change as he has a death wish and he will never be satisfied as long as he is alive and he could take someone else with him next time and shouldn’t be given the opportunity to do so. This is one sick dude and he needs psychiatric help and he needs it now.

  • Teen Survives Plunge Off Golden Gate Bridge « CBS San Francisco

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  • Bridge Jumper XXX

    Ok people settle down, my friends and I used to jump off bridges all the time when we were teenagers. It is a lot of fun BUT we never went above 120 feet due to the speed and bruising of your feet. 80 Feet and below is usually just fine as long as you have enough water to slow your dive when you hit the water. This kid obviously had some experience because he was “rolling up the windows” which keeps your body balanced in the air. So while it was a “stunt” he is experienced and experienced enough to live. People jump from cliff’s in Mexico from extreme heights all the time.

    Also, I do not advocate bridge jumping unless you are experienced and start at low heights and work your way up. The Golden Gate and other tall bridges are off limits to our groups of people due to the 98% fatality rate.

    So settle down.

  • Chloe T.

    I hope he’s prosecuted and punished for breaking the law and jumping off the bridge. Doing so may discourage other foolish people from attempting the same thing just to try and be on the news or something. It’s sad but true that, had the kid died, it would have been a good lesson to others.

  • colby

    dang this kid used to go to my school in ukiah im sure he did it just for the experience i doubt he wanted to hurt himself

  • rukiddingmeson

    Uhmmm….where was the adult supervision? There is no mention at all as to who was chaperoning this little excursion. I

    • observer

      I would not be so quick to cast doubt on the quality of the supervision.

      The parents at Windsor High have expressed the highest admiration for the teachers who supervised this trip. I am sure they will be in therapy for a long time to come because of this stunt.

      There is no way any adult supervisors on a school trip can prevent a young moron from unexpectedly jumping in front of a bus, a train….or from a bridge.

      I would suggest, however, that a public high school has no business permitting its students to walk the Bridge during instructional time. If the goal of the trip was to see a museum in San Francisco, then prudence dictates that the school should get the students to their destination, tour the museum, and get back to campus as soon as possible. Incidents like this give study trips a bad name, which is too bad. The trips are definitely worthwhile experiences if done properly. A walk across the Bridge should be done by students and their parents on their own time.

      I have a hunch this incident will prompt a lot of schools to rethink allowing “side trips” to the Bridge as part of a study trip. So, perhaps something good will come of this 17-year old jerk’s stunt.

      • Jadǝ Purǝlica

        I agree. A lot of kids are sneaky and make it so much harder for others. I wouldn’t be so quick on blaming the “adult supervisors”.

  • Uh Oh!

    We’ll be seeing him on Oprah and Jay Leno soon….he’s gonna get rich.

  • William Patrick Mosely

    May I share a lesson with, my cool friend. As a wild and adventurous munckin, I loved climbing, jumping, and excitement that you two experience. Kudos for your courage and determination. May I share with you a very hard jump that taught me to use my brains. We always had a jump buddy, Make a long story short, my jump buddy ended-up traction; he landed on a rock, broke both his legs. As an avid jumper, I waited until I graduated, joined the 82nd Airborne Division, now Airborne all the way. It’s a great way to stay in shape, and you will be surrounded with dudes who

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